Monday, May 16, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Yoon may visit U.S. in July to further strengthen bilateral ties
President Yoon Suk-yeol may make a return visit to the United States in July this year in a return visit in appreciation of President Joe Biden’s visit to Seoul on the upcoming May 20-21. This was recently reported by a Korean-language business daily, Seoul Kyungje. Reports indicate that Yoon will be accompanied by the leaders of many large Korean business conglomerates during his visit to the U.S. According to the political and business circles in Korea, the Korean government is preparing Yoon’s visit to the U.S. in July this year.
A tree planting event to celebrate Korea-Azerbaijan's diplomatic ties
Ambassador Ramzi Teymurov of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Seoul and Yongsan-gu Mayor Sung Jang-hyun attended a tree-planting event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and Azerbaijan at the Singye History Park on May 12. Organized by the Azerbaijan Embassy, the event was held for 30 minutes in order of congratulatory speeches, sign installation, and commemorative tree planting, with more than 20 guests, including Azerbaijan Embassy staff, and Yongsan-gu Office officials, in attendance.
"The UAE is an example of coexistence and tolerance"
The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of Korea, in cooperation with the Department of Religious Studies of Sogang University, organized the virtual session entitled "The UAE is an example of coexistence and tolerance", which was held on the media platform (Zoom) on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, UAE Ambassador to Seoul presented the presentation on the concept of tolerance and the efforts of the UAE to promote tolerance and coexistence, and pointed to the achievements of the UAE at the local and international levels in this direction, and considering the UAE a model among other countries calling for coexistence and tolerance with other countries, in addition to introducing the vision of leaders in the UAE towards tolerance in nation-building, and an introductory video was reviewed during the session, highlighting the UAE's contributions and efforts in tolerance.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea Fires More Missiles as Yoon Takes Office
North Korea fired another three short-range ballistic missiles towards the East Sea on Thursday, two days after President Yoon Seok-youl was sworn in here and five days after it fired a ballistic missile from a submarine. It was also the 16th missile launch this year alone. In its first session of the presidency right after the missiles were fired, the National Security Council strongly condemned the continued firing of missiles by the North as "a provocation that heightens tension on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and seriously threatens international peace and security."
Korea to Host Brazil's Football Superstars in Friendly Next Month
Korea will host Brazil in a friendly match next month ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November. Brazil will bring its best lineup to Korea, the South American country's football association said on Thursday, including some of the world's top players such as Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain, who has scored 71 goals in international matches to become Brazil's top scorer among active players. The roster also includes attackers Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid, Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City and goalkeeper Alisson of Liverpool. The friendly will take place at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 2 and will be broadcast live by TV Chosun.
Crowds Swarm Cheong Wa Dae After Presidential Office Moves
Huge crowds are swarming Cheong Wa Dae and its sylvan surrounding now that they have been opened to the public, while the new presidential office in Yongsan is drawing more protests to the area. The remarkable thing is how swift these changes have been in the two days since President Yoon Seok-youl was inaugurated. A group representing 5,000 Yongsan residents is already getting up a petition to submit to the Seoul Metropolitan Government seeking to ban protests in their backyard and seeking protection for locals if protests escalate.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Omicron is sweeping through North Korea
Almost 300,000 more people have come down with symptoms of Covid-19 in North Korea as the country entered the fourth day of a draconian nationwide lockdown aimed at stopping its first officially acknowledged Covid-19 outbreak, state-run media reported on Sunday. According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), approximately 296,180 people nationwide came down with fever symptoms between Friday evening and Saturday at 6 p.m., while 15 more had died. The total number of people who have shown fever symptoms between the end of April and Saturday is around 820,620, of which 496,030 have recovered, according to the news agency. Some 324,550 are receiving treatment, while a total of 42 people have died.
Royal Culture Festival to light up palaces across Seoul
The Cultural Heritage Administration’s grand Royal Culture Festival held its first offline opening ceremony in three years, lighting up Gwanghwamun and hosting a large-scale performance at Heungnyemun Square, inside Gyeongbok Palace on May 10. The festival, which is jointly hosted by the Cultural Heritage Administration’s Royal Palace and Tombs Center and the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, became a biannual festival last year. This year’s spring edition kicked off last week under the theme “Narye and Yeonhui,” and will run through May 22. “Narye” refers to the rite aimed at warding off evil spirits and “Yeonhui” means performing arts.
PCR test requirement for travelers being junked
It will soon be a little easier to enter Korea from abroad. Starting May 23, cheaper and more easily-found rapid antigen Covid-19 tests will be accepted for boarding a flight to Korea and entering the country, not just polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results. From June 1, the number of Covid tests needed to be taken after arrival will be reduced to only one PCR test within three days of arrival. Currently, arrivals have to submit a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure, take a PCR test within 24 hours of entry and a rapid antigen test on the sixth or seventh day.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Hyundai Motor reveals concept car ‘Mobility Ondol’
Hyundai Motor Group has revealed its concept car named ‘Mobility Ondol’ with a special seat structure and a heat conduction system similar to ondol, a Korean floor heating system, on its HMG Tech website. The group announced that it applied on Friday for a patent for the technology to be used in the concept car. Mobility Ondol is designed for passengers to freely use the space inside the car for their convenience. The car is equipped with full flat seats, which allow passengers to take multiple positions, such as basic, relax, and full flat.
First protest takes place within 100 meters from new presidential office
A protest rally took place at the main gate to the Defense Ministry building in Seoul’s Yongsan district, which is home to the new presidential office at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Some 500 members of ‘Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination of Korea,’ who were marching on foot, stopped momentarily and cheered en masse upon hearing the moderator who said, “Senior minority is the first group of people who are marching in front of the new presidential office.” The first protest rally took place ‘within 100 meters from the new presidential office room’ on the day, the first weekend after the inauguration of President Yoon Suk-yeol.
Ukrainian man makes his way of Russian-occupied land with his dog
Here is a surprising story of a man. To everyone’s surprise, Igor Pedin, 61, managed to leave Mariupol, a strategically critical region in southeastern Ukraine under siege by Russian troops since early March, to walk 225 km to Zaporizhzhia accompanied by his dog amid risks of bombardment and civilian massacre. Igor Pedin, a former cook, made the headlines on the Guardian on Friday. With the city of Mariupol under missile attack, he ended up with no food nor drinking water. In April 23, he decided to set off with a sack filled with everyday supplies holding his nine-year-old dog Zhu-Zhu in his arms. Roads were partly dented and destroyed amid fierce battles with dead bodies laid down on his way.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
KEPCO to seek asset sale as operating loss tops $6 bn Q1
Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) has incurred an operating loss of near 8 trillion won ($6.2 billion) in the first quarter alone, overwhelming last year’s full loss of 5.9 trillion won as it had been contained from raising electricity bills despite a jump in coal and gas prices that make up the bulk of power sourcing, sending the primary state utility to mull emergency property and other asset sale. KEPCO on Friday disclosed an operating loss of 7.79 trillion won on a consolidated basis for the first quarter ended March, sharply reversing from a profit of 565.6 billion won in the same period a year ago.
KG-led consortium named stalking horse bidder for SsangYong Motor
KG Group backed by local private equity firm Pavilion PE has been chosen as the stalking-horse bidder for distressed South Korean carmaker SsangYong Motor Co. after it beat out two other contesting groups with offering of about 900 billion won ($699.6 million), raising expectations for a turnaround in the bankrupt company after two years. The Seoul Bankruptcy Court on Friday named a KG-led consortium as the preferred bidder in a renewed tender for SsangYong Motor whose earlier deal with the Edison Motor-led consortium fell through for missing payment deadline.
Korean investors in panic with Terra inventors accused as major scams by some
Over 500,000 Korean investors are screaming with panic amid brewing speculation about major scheme by the Korean founders of the digital tokens that have caused a downward spiral in the global digital as well as mainstream capital markets after withdrawals of Terra (Luna) and TerraUSD (UST) were temporarily suspended for so-called network troubles. Terra validators tweeted late Thursday they were plugging out their network “to come up with a plan to reconstitute it.”
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Can the EU say goodbye to Russian oil?
Can Europe give up its dependence on Russian energy? The European Union recently proposed banning imports of Russian petroleum as a way of sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The plan includes barring crude oil imports within six months and refined oil imports by the end of the year. Once it goes through approval procedures with its 27 members, the EU plans to put the ban in effect shortly. Earlier in March, the US moved to announce plans for banning Russian crude oil and natural gas imports. The effects were purely symbolic, since Russia only accounted for around 3% of US crude oil imports.
As N. Korea reports COVID-19 outbreak, some hope it will prompt inter-Korean cooperation
North Korea has finally succumbed to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. During a Politburo meeting held Thursday morning, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un confirmed the country’s first positive case of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus and announced that the country will be switching over to a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system.” While the COVID-19 virus ravaged the world beginning in January 2020, Kim touted North Korea’s status as a “COVID-free country” as his greatest administrative achievement. Now, his crisis management will be put to the test.
Hidden history of S. Korea’s Blue House: A supreme seat of authority rooted in Japanese colonial rule
“As of today, the era of the Blue House presidency is over.” These words, spoken by outgoing President Moon Jae-in before a crowd of people seeing him off on his last day of work at the Blue House on Monday, sounded like a weighty declaration. It signified the end of the Blue House’s history dating back 83 years (or 82 years and eight months, more precisely) as the supreme seat of South Korean authority — ever since Sept. 20, 1939, when Jiro Minami (1874–1955), the seventh Japanese governor-general of Korea and a figure notorious for his policy forcing Koreans to adopt Japanese names, moved into a new residence built in the rear garden of the Gyeongbok Palace, the primary palace used by Joseon’s kings.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
U.S. Base Spouting Carcinogens but Government Plans to Open a Park This Year after Restricting Visitors’ Time at the Park
The government plans to open a park in the former U.S. military base in Yongsan, Seoul, which the U.S. Forces Korea returned, by the end of this year without undergoing any cleanup despite that contamination of soil and underground water has exceeded safety standards. The government will only take temporary measures, such as restricting entrance and the time visitors stay in the park. President Yoon Suk-yeol (Yoon Seok-youl) ordered his officials to open the U.S. base to the public within this year, along with the relocation of the presidential office to Yongsan. And to carry out this order, the government will first open the park after makeshift measures and no cleanup operation. This has led to criticism of a hasty plan focused on opening the park rather than on the safety of the citizens.
North Korea, “A Fever Spreading Nationwide Since Late April... 18,000 Cases Yesterday, So Far Over 350,000 Cases”
North Korea announced that they confirmed over 18,000 new daily cases of fever patients nationwide and disclosed that six patients including one confirmed COVID-19-positive died on May 12. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said, “There was a weak spot in our disease control system,” and instructed the government to quickly respond to the situation. On May 13, the Korea Central News Agency reported the news saying, “Comrade Kim Jong-un visited the National Emergency Disease Control Headquarters on May 12.” The North Korean leader inspected the command rooms at the Headquarters and received a report on the status of the Maximum Emergency Disease Control System executed the previous day and the status of transmission.
A Walk Holding His Cat, Moon Jae-in’s Life after Retirement, “Just Like 5 Years Ago”
A look into the ordinary life of former President Moon Jae-in in his home in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do following his retirement has drawn attention. His close aides met with the former president in his Yangsan home on May 11 and said Moon seemed comfortable and looked just like he did five years ago. This day, former chief of staff Im Jong-seok posted a picture with former President Moon on social media and wrote, “He seemed relaxed,” and added, “I bow my head and thank the people for their passionate support as the president got off work and as he returned home to Yangsan.”
Yoon to Deliver His First Address to National Assembly Monday
President Yoon Suk Yeol will attend a plenary session of the National Assembly on Monday morning and deliver his first address to the Assembly since he took office last Tuesday. The presidential spokesperson's office said on Sunday that the key words of the address set for Monday morning are "bipartisan cooperation with the assembly to overcome the crisis" and "politics of cooperation to overcome the crisis." President Yoon is expected to call for the assembly's cooperation to swiftly pass the government's 36-point-four trillion won extra budget. The bill is aimed at providing relief funds for the self-employed and small business owners hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
N. Korean Leader Orders Military to Stabilize Drug Supply
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly reprimanded officials for failing to supply medicine in a timely manner amid an explosive spread of the COVID-19 across the country. According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) on Monday, Kim issued the criticism during an emergency politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party on Sunday. Presiding over the meeting, Kim reportedly said the politburo had ordered the swift distribution of its national medicine reserves, but the drugs are not reaching people in a timely and accurate manner through pharmacies. The KCNA said Kim criticized the irresponsible work attitude and negligence demonstrated by the head of the central public prosecutors' office.
Candidates Campaign for June 1 Local Elections
Candidates of rival parties are campaigning in earnest in the first weekend after the candidate registration for the June 1 local elections. Former chair of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) Song Young-gil, who is running for Seoul mayor, presented election pledges to lower tax burdens for homeowners. For owners of multiple houses, Song vowed to raise the officially appraised value of homes subject to the comprehensive real estate tax from the current 600 million won to one-point-one billion won. Song noted that owners of one home are not subject to the tax if the value is under one-point-one billion won, but the ceiling is just 600 million won for owners of multiple homes.
S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases under 30,000 for 2nd day amid eased virus curbs
South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed below 30,000 for the second straight day Sunday in the latest sign that the country's virus cases are on a downward trend amid eased virus curbs. The country added 25,434 new virus infections, including 26 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,782,061, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country added 48 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 23,709, with the fatality rate at 0.13 percent. The number of critically ill patients fell to 338 from 341 a day earlier, the KDCA said.
Yoon, Biden to discuss N. Korea's provocations, economic security, int'l contribution
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, will discuss North Korean provocations, economic security and contributions to pending international issues when they meet next weekend for their first summit, a senior official said Sunday. Biden is set to arrive in Seoul on Friday for the summit with the new South Korean president the following day before visiting Japan on Sunday on his first Asia trip since his inauguration last year. The two leaders will discuss how to deal with North Korea's provocations. They will also discuss bilateral cooperation in supply chain issues, emerging technologies and other topics related to economic security, the senior presidential official said.
S. Korea to propose talks with N. Korea over pandemic support
South Korea plans to offer working-level talks with North Korea, a senior official said Sunday, in an apparent move to help the North contain the spread of COVID-19. Last week, North Korea declared the implementation of the "maximum emergency" virus control system as it acknowledged an outbreak of COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic began. North Korea had claimed for over two years that it was coronavirus-free. "The government is actively reviewing to officially propose to North Korea holding a working-level meeting at the beginning of the week," a senior South Korean official told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
How bad could omicron get in North Korea?
After holding down the fort for over two years, North Korea finally let COVID-19 slip through the cracks in its tightly sealed doors. Just days since the first cases were announced, North Korea’s total number of related deaths rose to 42, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Sunday. The count of people with fever accumulated since late April reached 820,620, which is about 3 percent of its 25 million population. How bad could omicron get in North Korea? Here’s what experts have told The Korea Herald.
Fierce two-way race for June 1 elections
The upcoming local elections on June 1 have already become a historic event for South Korea, with the country seeing younger candidates than ecer running for public office while the competition rate hit rock-bottom. The National Election Commission at 6 p.m. Friday stopped accepting candidate registrations for the local elections, where voters will choose 17 new metropolitan mayors and provincial governors as well as 226 other heads of local administrative units.
North Korea confirms COVID-19 outbreak, Kim orders lockdown
North Korea officially confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak for the first time in a state media report on Thursday. Calling the situation the “biggest emergency,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered a de-facto lockdown to prevent further spread of the disease. According to the Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang has detected cases of the stealth omicron variant, the highly transmissible offshoot of the omicron virus.“The country’s biggest emergency has occurred with a hole in our emergency quarantine front which we have kept safe for two years and three months since February 2020,” the KCNA said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
COVID outbreak increases North Korea's reliance on China
As North Korea's COVID-19 situation has gone out of control after confirming its first case of the infectious disease last week, the reclusive state is leaning on its ally, China, to overcome the crisis. South Korea is expected to propose working-level talks with Pyongyang this week. According to North Korea's emergency epidemic prevention headquarters, some 296,000 fever cases had been reported Saturday, with 15 deaths. The North's COVID-19 cases skyrocketed from 18,000 reported Thursday and 174,000 on Friday. Despite Pyongyang announcing the number of daily COVID-19 infections, experts question the accuracy of its statistics as the totalitarian country might have cut down the numbers to appease the public sentiment.
Local election campaigns embarrass Samsung, SK, Hyundai, POSCO
Candidates running in the June 1 local elections have put major conglomerates in an awkward position, as they are pledging to have corporate headquarters and factories be established in their constituencies, despite growing doubts about the feasibility of such promises, according to industry officials, Sunday. In a race for the governorship of Gangwon Province, Kim Jin-tae of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) promised to cooperate with the PPP's Wonju mayoral candidate Won Kang-su on convincing Samsung Electronics to build a semiconductor factory in the province's most populous city.
Take initiative in improving Korea's relations with China
I would like first to congratulate you on becoming the president of the Republic of Korea. May God bless you with wisdom and power and allow you to lead the nation to where you have promised the Korean people. May there be a plethora of challenges ahead, however, I am as confident as one of those who support you that you will overcome them with your unwavering determination and unswerving willpower. The best of luck to you. Just like the rest of the world leaders, you will have to navigate Korea through uncharted waters, full of uncertainties and looming dangers. Nothing can be taken for granted and there are no foregone conclusions within sight. I dare to say that the success of your voyage will depend on how you manage Korea's relations with China.
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